DOVER, Del. — Matt Kenseth held off Kyle Larson in a thrilling run down the stretch to win a wreck-filled NASCAR race Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
Kenseth snapped a 17-race winless skid with his 37th Sprint Cup victory — and denied Larson his first win. "I got digging the best I could and tried to hold him off," Kenseth said.
They battled door-to-door for part of the final five laps of the AAA Drive for Autism 400 and the 2003 NASCAR champion picked all the right lines and pulled away at the end. Chase Elliott made a late push and finished third in the No. 24 Chevrolet. Larson matched his career-best finish, and Elliott had the top finish of his rookie season.
Larson, 23, said he had too much respect for Kenseth — who at 44 is older than Larson and 20-year-old Elliott combined — to bump him out of the way late.
"I was trying to do all you could do to get by him without getting into him," Larson said.
The top three were among the few cars intact after several accidents, the worst being one triggered by Jimmie Johnson.
The 10-time winner at Dover failed to jump off the restart because of a faulty transmission. The six-time series champion could not shift the No. 48 Chevy into third gear and 18 cars — stacked and off at full speed — were collected in the melee.
"In my career, I've never had a transmission do that to me," Johnson said.
Martin Truex, who led 47 laps, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kyle Busch were among the drivers that had their cars piled up on the concrete.
"I want to get out and punch somebody," Truex said over the radio. "Seriously. Hard. Like, as hard as I can."
Tampa's Aric Almirola said he suffered a broken finger in the wreck, which stopped the race for 11 minutes, 22 seconds.